Everyone At Valve Has Been Fired
Posted by Ben Zeigler on May 19, 2009
Last week Valve announced the next free update for Team Fortress 2, which would update the Sniper class. Things started fairly normal, with the announcement of a Hunting Bow and a new map type. On the third day they announced a second upgrade for the sniper, a shield that prevented one back stab per life. This leads to a fair amount of complaining from players of the Spy class on message boards across the internets. They were bitter that the sniper was given an ability that directly countered them, when spies were the explicit counter to snipers in the first place. Around this point a few players noticed something subtle: the page for the shield update had changed a few times over the day, and at some point included a picture of a de-cloaking spy directly behind the Sniper. Conspiracy theories spread, but people thought Valve was just screwing with the hardcore fans, which they’ve been known to do before.
Finally, from out of the mist of confusion, the Spy Update backstabbed the Sniper Update. For once the conspiracy theories were right. The spy gets two new items (a decoy, and permanent invisibility if you don’t move) and a HILARIOUS spread of products from MANN CO. (“We Sell Products And Get In Fights”). I very much want a camera beard, as I need to infiltrate Canada shortly. The Spy Update reveal was pulled off in a clever way that very much fit the attitude of the game. I figured that was enough excitement for one update.
But then late Saturday night Valve accidentally leaked Meet The Spy. Apparently they accidentally uploaded it to their youtube stream and did not properly set it as private. The error was quickly discovered, but in the meantime a few people had managed to download the video and it instantly spread around the internet. It spread so quickly because it was a damn fine short film (that you should watch in HD, link later). It features slapstick comedy, dramatic fight scenes, and the absolute best “Your Mom” joke I have ever witnessed. Valve obviously had planned to release the video Monday, but their thunder had been stolen by an accidental leak. Most companies would go down one of two roads: clamp down harshly on the leak and try to stop distribution, or go on with the big announcement as if nothing had happened.
Instead, over the course of today Valve decided to take what had happened and fucking run with it. The official release of Meet the Spy was modified last minute to add a reference to the leaked video (the hilarious alarm board now includes a reference to “Leaked Video” as well as a shit-ton of other references). The Spy achievement also list includes a bonus “Valve Corporate Achievement” entitled “Welcome to the internets: Fail to understand what ‘Private’ means on YouTube.” In case that wasn’t enough, Valve’s Robin Walker vowed to get to the bottom of the leak before working on any other games. He then fired Marc Laidlaw and several others. Finally after wearing down Greek intern Stavros Xanthis, Robin declared the case officially Closed. Everyone at Valve has now been fired, and we will also miss everyone who gets hired tomorrow and then fired again. It is unknown how long Robin Walker’s tyranny will stand, but rumors of him being Red Spy are just speculation. We need to find out if he speaks French and enjoys older women from Boston.
The lesson to be learned here is that when something screws with your careful plans, you take control of that thing, warp it to your every demand, and channel it into a concentrated stream of Awesome. That is how you do PR.
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